I am often asked how long it takes me to finish a painting, and this question is always a challenge for me to answer. I assume they are asking how long I spent applying the paint to the paper, but there is much more than this one step. If I answered how long I spent working with just my paints, I would be leaving out some of the longest parts of the process. There are many steps involved, and if any of them are left out, the painting would never be done.
For me, the painting starts when I get an idea of what I want to paint. When I have a good idea, I take my camera, and go in search of reference material. This can take days or weeks as I look for the right conditions, or the right model, or just something that I think would be interesting. I try to work out the composition with my camera as I take pictures, looking at the angles, perspectives, lighting conditions, movement, timing and a whole host of other considerations. Armed with my photos, I then spend time editing them, adjusting the values and colors and creating the image I want to work with.
Typically, I spend several days before I get to the next step, which is when I finally get out my art supplies. With all my materials set up and ready to use, I start by creating a detailed drawing of the composition on paper, and only then do I begin painting. Time spent actually applying the paint to the paper, from start to finish, can take from several hours to several weeks, but normally I work on something for three or four days before it is done. And even then, I like to let time pass, so I can look at it with a fresh eye, to see what areas need to be adjusted. This is usually a week or so later.
When I am done applying the paint, for me, the painting is still not complete until it is ready to show. It needs to be in a frame. Faming the painting only takes about an hour once all the materials are together, but much time is involved in choosing the best frame and mat colors, to showcase the painting the best way possible. Only in the frame, do I consider the piece finished.
I have never actually timed how long I spend on specific paintings, and that is why I don’t know how to answer the original question. Some artists include all the years they spent honing their craft, and learning how to paint when they talk of a finished painting. What I do know is that painting is a long process with many steps that all need to be done well, before something is finished and ready to be shown.
The part about having the painting in a frame before it is done isn't true. In reality, it is only done if someone buys it, and it is out of my hands. Otherwise, I could work on it forever.
I know its kinda hard to see the painting in the sunlight, behind the glass, but here is the start to finished product.
This one was 20 x 30" and it found a good home.